The Civil Rights movement had “We Shall Overcome.” Protesters against the Vietnam War had “Blowin’ in the Wind.” But what about today’s movement to prevent climate change and stop the Keystone XL pipeline?
Fortunately, the coolest green band in Boston, Melodeego, is on the case.
If ever there was a movement that needed the energy that music can provide, it’s the climate justice movement, which is fighting pipelines on several fronts. Here in New England, we’re protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in the Midwest and plans to transport tar sands oil across our region to tankers in Portland, Maine. The pipelines would use underground pipes built in the 1950s and the project would be operated by Enbridge, the same company that’s trying to build a tar sands pipeline to British Columbia.
In March, protesters against the Keystone XL Pipeline marched on the Boston area office of TransCanada, the company hoping to construct the pipeline that would transport tar sands oil to refineries in the Southern U.S., Over 100 activists arrived for a “Funeral for the Future,” dressed in funereal black and hoisting a coffin. What made the action sizzle, however, was an original dirge by Melodeego. The band taught the music to demonstrators ahead of time, who sung it a cappella at the march. Three of the band’s members were among the 25 activists arrested in their first act of civil disobedience. They sang all the way to the police station.
They are digging us a hole
They are digging us a hole
Six feet underground
Where the pipeline will go
We will lay down our bodies
We will lay down our souls
We won’t stand by and watch
While they dig us a hole.
OK, a bit gloomy—but it is a funeral dirge! Plus if you really want upbeat tunes to save the planet, check out the rest of Melodeego’s music. They’ve been writing music about the climate crisis and energy for over six years. In 2008, they recorded the album, “Embrace Your Energy Revolution,” inspired by the climate justice movement. You may have seen them at Occupy encampments or at rallies in Washington, D.C.
In their 2010 the song, “The World is You,” which has an original video, Melodeego offers an upbeat message of humans connecting across differences to protect the environment.
I recently saw Melodeego perform in concert. Audience members took turns pedaling on three bicycle-powered generators to fuel the band’s sound system. The band was inspired to go bike power after the BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Melodeego has also been doing workshops on campuses and in community settings, what they call “Soul WakeUps.” These programs are inspired by the work of writer Joanna Macy, and her insights on how to move people from passivity and despair to action and engagement on environmental issues. Melodeego’s workshops combine music, reflection, videos and discussion.
Next time you attend a rally around climate change, you may be singing a Melodeego song. Sing it loudly. And help out with the pedal power sound system if you are able!
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Chuck Collins is director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he is a senior scholar. He is co-editor of Inequality.org and the author of Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bringing Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good.